It’s easy to forget that other golfers are often people as well. Frequently all they appear to be are slow moving, exasperating, megalithic obstructions, arrogant youngsters or grumpy old committee members. They are, in the main, real people, just like you, with their own fears and concerns, handicaps and hang-ups.
However, it’s especially easy to forget this when the group of wilderbeest are on the green a hundred yards away from you clustered around the flag tracing a virtual path toward them up the fairway calling out random numbers as they mark their cards. Or when the 28 handicapper stops to take out his new £10,000 or so Bushnells Medalist with Pinseeker Range Finder and stares at it for 10 minutes looking at God knows what. Then gets out a 7 iron and leaves it 80 yards short. Or when one of them is ambling back to the tee after they’ve duck hooked one so far left that the only question is whether it’s in the same post code as the fairway, not whether it’s in or out of bounds. Why didn’t they just play another one off the tee? Were they hoping for some divine intervention? Did they think that a dove would swoop down and gather the ball in its little beak and drop it back on the fairway? Why can’t they get a move on? Why don’t they just take up bowls?
Preposterously the people behind you have the shameless temerity to complain about you for slow play. You feel them getting angrier and angrier. The fact that they are Committee members seems to want you to play even slower for some reason. Granted it was getting dark when you finished and the group in front of you had finished, showered, had a three course meal and waved sarcastically as they passed you on their way home. Yet, you need to align yourself correctly, don’t you? You had been taking advice from your colleagues; “keep your head still”, “don’t forget to hyper-extend”, “your feet are too close to the ball……after you’ve hit it.”
You’ve seen professionals stop when something disturbs them and go through their whole pre-shot routine again. On Sky Sports Ewen Murray said that Ian Poulter showed remarkable composure when he did it. Yet, when you do it all you get it abuse. When you have to look for a ball it’s inevitable. When you need to mark an 18 inch putt you’re just being careful.
And another thing, how come, when you play with your ‘friends’, they say the most wounding, most unfair, most hurtful things. It’s not always good playing with people who have played the course at least once a day every day for 40 or 50 years. It should be an advantage, but it rarely is. It starts on the first drive on the first tee. Before you’ve finished your follow through Keith (they’re all called Keith) is whispering “bunker” as it sails over the hill. There is no way he can know that from your swing, unless he’s putting some kind of hex on you – again. From the greenside bunker you thin it and the ball whistles across the green head high like a tracer bullet. It stops 50 yards away. You’re greeted with a less than sympathetic, “Well out”. A few shots later and you’re close to the edge of the green. Your putt hit a sprinkler climbs vertically for a few kilometres and plops back to earth further away from the hole than you were 3 shots ago, “looked good in the air”, comes the less-than-helpful quip.
There are times when your companions can be incredibly cruel. For instance the time you were in the middle of the fairway next to the 150 yard marker and asked politely,
“Do you think I can get there with an 8 iron?”
“Depends. ” comes the weary response.
“On how many times you’re planning to hit it.”
I did get my own back, just the once. I had eagled the long par 5 3rd hole for the first time in my life and couldn’t resist it. I’m not proud of it but it had to be done. When would I ever get the chance again? As we stood on the next tee I took a driver out and asked politely,
Writer, golfer and golf writer, I have developed and moved on (not permanently in case there are any publishers reading this) from the relatively straightforward world of management consultancy with motivation, leadership, change matrices, decision making, communication, customer care, bottom lines, double-loop learning, stress, attribution theory, behavioural interviewing, project management, group think and Johnson and Scholes’ Cultural Web, to the complex and unfathomable world of describing places where people can hit a ball into a hole.
I have written for a number of golf magazines and newspapers including 'Golf International' , 'wales on Sunday' and am currently golf correspondent for Cambria Magazine (Wales's Magazine) and blogger for Wales Online.
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